Mader: My brother Brad | TheFencePost.com

Mader: My brother Brad

Shelli Mader

My brothers, sister and I all grew up with the dream of having our own farm or ranch. Unfortunately, my parents' place wasn't big enough for any of us to make a living off of, so we have all had to be creative in our quest to ranch. Each of has had a unique journey that has found us in many different states working a multitude of different jobs.

When I was in college at the University of Wyoming I majored in animal science. I loved the feeds and feeding class I took my first semester, so I quickly decided that I wanted to be a ruminant nutritionist. It wasn't until the next semester when I took chemistry that I decided I wanted to stay as far away from anything that involved that science.

I opted instead to major in agricultural communications. I decided that I would much rather write about a scientist than actually be one.

Ten years after I left college, my brother Brad picked up the mantel and majored in animal science with an emphasis in ruminant nutrition. He enjoyed it so much, he headed to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln to get his master's degree.

In fact, this brother of mine (who wanted to drop out of school in the second grade) has gone to school longer than any of the rest of us. He's actually still in college. He graduated in 2015 with his master's in ruminant nutrition and now he's pursuing his doctorate.

He's only 26 years old, but along the way he's managed to build up his own small place by being frugal, settling for less-than-perfect living situations and staying focused on his end goal.

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After Brad graduated from college in Wyoming he got married and moved to Lincoln. He and his wife Brittany lived in several different rental houses in the town of Lincoln and in the small town of Bennet, Neb.

They lived simply and saved as much as they could from his small college salary and his wife's tiny salary. They drove old, used vehicles and stayed on a budget. Two years ago they found an old, junky, run-down place on seven acres outside of Denton, Neb.

The place was trashed, but they got it for a great price. They've spent the last couple of years cleaning the place up, doing small remodels on the house as time allows and building up their animals. The place is far from their dream ranch, but living there has enabled them to start living their dream. They saved up to buy a few cows and now have a little herd of seven.

In addition to having his own cows now, Brad gets to work with them everyday at the university. In two years, he plans on graduating with his doctorate and making a good living being a nutritionist for a feedlot. He and his wife plan on continuing to slowly fix up their place so that they can buy a nicer house and land a few years down the road.

When I was in college, I had no idea about the kinds of opportunities that were available in agriculture. Brad not only got his master's degree almost completely paid for by the college, but was also able to get paid to do it by working at the school feedlot. The same is true for his doctorate.

If I could go back and do college over again I would do a little more research into all of the great ag opportunities there are. I had no idea opportunities like Brad's were out there. Young people who want to farm or ranch should do some research about the possibilities to get started through colleges.❖

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